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Eyebrow Piercing 101

Eyebrow piercings! For me, as someone who got into body piercing in the early 2000’s these piercings were as quintessentially 90’s as they come. They evoked rock and punk bands, the cool seniors in high school, bikers I saw in the city, and every other post of an emo boy on Tumblr. I grew up loving the look of eyebrow piercings, and admiring them whether they sported a sleek curved barbell or a chunky hoop. Eyebrows dropped in popularity for a little bit, but these days they are soaring back into fashion, particularly with the advent of unique brow placements. Today’s blog post however is a deep dive on the classic, standard eyebrow piercing. We’ll discuss anatomy, placement, jewelry considerations, and healing. And stay tuned for upcoming parts of this 101 series, featuring some of the specifics for other variations on eyebrow piercings.



Anatomy


Eyebrows are piercings that are very anatomy-dependent. You want to have enough tissue to support the piercing, and you want the area to be fairly protrusive, creating more of a ‘shelf’ shape, which is also necessary to support the piercing. Folks who have hardly any tissue over their brows, or very flat brow ridges, may not be suitable for eyebrow piercings. Interestingly enough, we do see this effected by gender. Folks who are assigned male at birth and have their initial development primarily affected by testosterone will usually have larger more protrusive brow ridges. Folks assigned female at birth and are more affected by estrogen often have a more vertical brow ridge with less protrusion and definition.







This does mean that it can be more likely not to have anatomy for eyebrow piercings for AFAB clients, and if you do have suitable anatomy, you may find more struggles with healing and irritation. A reputable piercer will assess your anatomy in person before piercing you, and have a discussion about your anatomy and how it may affect your piercing. Now that being said there are plenty of AFAB clients who have perfect anatomy for eyebrow piercings, so don’t let this dissuade you! It’s just important we discuss the way our natural brow ridges may affect this particular piercing.





Beyond the anatomy of the tissue of the brow, we also look at the way the brows grow to help determine an aesthetic placement that flows. Generally classic brow piercings are placed at the arch or beyond it, into the tail of the eyebrow. Not too far out where the tail fully tapers off, and usually where the tissue is thinner and less able to support this. But not too far in where this ends up going through the middle of the brow. We want that ‘Goldilocks’ placement somewhere just past the arch. Usually angled slightly in toward the eye, perpendicular to the tissue there. This placement is easy to pierce, easy to heal, and tends to be flattering on just about everyone.





Now just because we look at how the brow grows, doesn’t mean you have to have eyebrows for us to pierce them. This is just a general guideline we sometimes look at when placing these. If you shave or otherwise remove your eyebrows- you can still have them pierced! Just be aware if you do decide to grow them back in, where your piercing sits in relation to where the hair grows may look different than you envisioned.


There are other placements for eyebrow piercings, such as centered brows, but those merit their own 101 posts because of some uniqueness in their healing process, so you can learn more about those in upcoming blog posts.





Migration, Rejection, and ‘Surface’ Piercings


In our anatomy section, we discussed what ideal and unsuitable anatomy for an eyebrow piercing looks like. We know we need a protrusive brow ridge and enough tissue for this piercing to be stable. But what happens if we do a piercing anyway on someone with less than ideal anatomy or fully unsuitable anatomy for this piercing? Well, it’s likely going to migrate and eventually reject right out of your eyebrow. This can leave some pretty severe scarring, and it is generally not a great process. You can learn more about rejection and migration here.



A migrating eyebrow piercing, close to full rejection


However, migration and rejection can be a risk with any eyebrow piercing, even those done on ideal anatomy. The risk is just significantly lower the better your anatomy is suited for this piercing. This is because eyebrow piercings can sometimes fall under the umbrella of surface piercings.


“When we say surface piercings there are usually two primary things piercers are trying to describe with this language.


Surface Piercing- A piercing that travels along the surface of the tissue where it is pierced. Unlike piercings such as earlobes or nostrils which have a distinct front and back and are pierced through a distinct piece of tissue, surface piercings are through subtle ridges, or flat along the surface of the skin. Because of this, these piercings can be more prone to migration and rejection.


Surface Piercing- A type of piercing done just through the surface of the tissue, usually in a flat low movement place, specifically with surface style jewelry- surface bars or surface anchors aka microdermals. “


Eyebrows fall into the former category and vary greatly based on anatomy. Someone with the most protrusive, well-defined brow ridge with tons of tissue barely qualifies as a “surface” piercing- there’s a really well-defined and distinct front and back. But this is not the majority of folks getting eyebrow piercings. Many people fall into a grey area with subtle ridges and less definition, making their anatomy far closer to this definition of surface piercing. It’s in the grey area of suitable anatomy that we see the most struggles with brows healing, migrating, and rejecting. You can learn more about that here.


Your piercer should discuss these risks with you, assess your anatomy at the time of piercing, and have an honest conversation about your concerns for migration and rejection.


Initial Jewelry


Initial jewelry for an eyebrow piercing is going to be a curved barbell. Simple ball ends can be the easiest for healing and keeping clean, but depending on anatomy more decorative pieces can also be used initially such a gemstones and opals. I don’t suggest super large pieces, or spikes for these for fresh piercings. Since eyebrows can be more prone to migration and rejection, large pieces and spikes, which are snaggy, just increase the risk of this occurring. These are great styles to wear in your healed eyebrow piercing, but in my opinion not worth the risk in a fresh one.


I generally don’t suggest hoops for initial eyebrow piercings because of issues with catching and snagging, as well as migration and rejection. Hoops can be a fun look once fully healed, but are a bit too problematic for most folks in fresh piercings.


Now because eyebrows can fall into the category of surface piercings, some folks are confused why a curved barbell is the ideal choice here. What about a surface bar? Would that be better? And the answer to that is no. Eyebrow piercings are pierced through a ridge as we discussed. On folks where that ridge is very well defined, a curved barbell is what is perpendicular to that tissue and rests in it properly. These well-defined brows are barely a surface piercing. Now when we get to the more grey area anatomy, it’s still pierced through a ridge, just a much less defined one. This means a curved barbell is still what is ideal and would sit perpendicular to the tissue. A surface bar is only suitable for fully flat, low-movement areas. Eyebrows, being a ridge, are not the appropriate place for these. And if someone did have a fully flat brow ridge, that would simply mean they didn’t have the appropriate anatomy to support an eyebrow piercing at all- not that a surface bar would work. Surface bars also work best in love movement areas- and eyebrows are extremely high movement, expressive parts of our face. Surface bars are simply not what’s suitable for this placement.


Healing Expectations


So, now we know what anatomy is ideal for eyebrow piercings and what isn’t. We understand that these can be a type of surface piercing and are more prone to issues with rejection and migration than some other piercings. We know what jewelry we might get, and that jewelry choice and style will also likely affect the healing process. But what is that healing process going to look like? And what about that migration? Let’s talk about it.


Eyebrow piercings generally take 3-6 months to heal. Some folks, due to anatomy medical conditions, lifestyle, climate, or jewelry choice may find that it takes a full year or even a little longer for this piercing to be fully healed and comfortable. This is pretty normal and if you are someone who is a slower healer when it comes to your eyebrow piercing don’t be discouraged- a lot of us are. Side sleepers, people who wear helmets and headgear at work, and folks who are just clumsy and catch and snag things easier are all going to probably have a trickier time healing this.


I have a blog post here that discusses how healing actually occurs in piercings which is very helpful when it comes to eyebrow piercings if you are curious about specifics of the actual healing. I have another here that discusses aftercare methods.


Many clients will have a fairly uneventful healing process for their eyebrows. They’ll get it pierced, probably snag it a few times on pillowcases and shirts and glasses while you adjust to having it there, and then before you know it it’s healed and you are changing it in and out without issue. We love to see it!


But that won’t be the case for everyone. Some folks’ healing journeys are a bit more work. This can start early, on with some fun brushing after the initial piercing. Bruising is a risk with any piercing, but I find it’s most common around the eyes- eyebrows in particular. Common enough that I warn all my clients that they may experience a lovely little subtle black eye in the days following their eyebrow piercing. This is normal, and not something to panic about. Do follow up with your piercer if you have bruising to be safe, but it usually heals and subsides in just a few days.



Some post eyebrow piercing bruising


Once you are through that initial few weeks of healing, now we are in for the long haul. And this is where some folks may struggle. On and off irritation bumps are not uncommon. Have you caught or snagged this recently? Eyebrows are a pretty high-traffic area that can get a good bonk or snag somewhat often- especially from taking shirts on and off carelessly. These can absolutely cause the piercing to become irritated. If you did, and that’s the cause of your bump, then some extra TLC and care & some time, and patience are all this needs to heal right up.


If you usually shave, wax, thread, or otherwise remove hair from your brows, you’ll want to refrain from that for the full healing process in the vicinity of your new piercing. Hair removal processes can be quite irritating to a healing eyebrow piercing, and it’s best to simply avoid it until things are fully healed.


What about being sick recently? A cold or the flu? Maybe seasonal allergies, or even seasonal weather change? When you are sick, and your whole body is sick, then your piercing understandably is going to be all grumpy too. Focus on getting yourself feeling better- your piercing can’t recover until you have recovered first!


Eyebrows are sensitive piercings that can easily become irritated. But thanks to their propensity to migration and rejection, it is important if you experience any irritation or issues to follow up with your piercer so they can check up on what going on and offer you their professional advice. Often clients just assume they can clean and baby their piercing and it will recover. And usually, I’d agree with that. But for any piercing that has a higher risk of rejection, I think it’s always worth following up with your piercer. I so often see eyebrow piercings end up removed that could have been saved…. if the client got in touch when issues were first happening.




And there you have it, my guide on all things to consider before getting your eyebrow pierced! These are such cool piercings, and will always have a special place in my heart. My eyebrow was one of my first facial piercings as a teenager, and I loved it so much while I wore it. Hopefully, this helps anyone considering getting their eyebrows pierced plan for it accordingly, and understand what to expect from the process. Happy Healing!

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